Salesforce embraces ‘reunion’ with personalized data and collaboration tech

The sales company kicked off its Dreamforce conference this week, bringing together 40,000 members of its wide-ranging community in San Francisco for the first time in more than two years and launching new products that allow them to connect with each other in new ways long after Thursday’s event.

The Dreamforce event, built around the theme of “Great Reunion” following the global pandemic with limited live events, featured the release of a real-time data platform called Salesforce Genie that powers the company’s customer relationship management products.

The company also rolled out a new collaboration feature for Slack, which was acquired by the CRM giant last year. This week’s announcement acknowledges that the pandemic has changed a lot in the business world, and Salesforce is responding to this new reality by beefing up its customer engagement tools.

“A lot has happened to us, but we have to admit that a lot has happened,” co-founder and co-CEO Mark Benioff (pictured right) said during today’s keynote. “We need to have a beginner’s mind. What do we really want and what really matters to us? We want to connect with your customers in a whole new way.”

Significant platform shift

Salesforce’s new way of connecting with customers through Genie has been described by Benioff’s co-CEO Bret Taylor (left) as “the most significant transformation of our platform in 20 years.” The real-time data approach is designed to meet expectations for highly personalized engagement that integrates meaningful data at breakneck speed.

“Today’s customers, in modern times, are mobile in real time,” Taylor said in today’s keynote. “Personalization now needs to happen in milliseconds. We’ve completely reimagined our CRM.”

The company’s announcement this week reflects Salesforce’s interest in maximizing the value of its major acquisitions over the past few years. Genie will include a connector to the MuleSoft integration platform, which Salesforce bought in 2018, and the Tableau data virtualization product, which it acquired in 2019.

Salesforce’s latest additions to its Slack messaging platform include a new Canvas tool that will allow users to store information within workspaces on channels and link to workflows. Canvas is built on technology from Quip, a startup co-founded by Taylor that Salesforce acquired in 2016.

“It’s like Quip graduating from high school and going to college,” Taylor said at a media conference after the keynote.

largest enterprise application

The Dreamforce event comes a month after Salesforce beat quarterly expectations but disappointed its fiscal 2023 forecast. That didn’t stop Benioff from pointing out in his keynote that Salesforce recently overtook CRM rival SAP in the enterprise applications business.

“I have a lot of respect for SAP,” Benioff said. “They had a great quarter; we had an even better quarter. That means Salesforce is the largest enterprise applications company in the world.”

Salesforce’s warning for the upcoming fiscal year reflects a recognition by company executives that sales cycles are getting longer and new deals are coming under greater scrutiny. Benioff noted today that his company is well-positioned, but the current post-pandemic economy has led to uncharted waters.

“What we’ve been through in the last two years is obviously completely different,” Benioff said in an interview with the media. “It’s a new day from where we were two years ago. The buying environment is strong and the correlation of the company has never been higher.”

In the first hour of the keynote, see the new look at Salesforce. Unlike last year Benioff strode into the Dreamforce conference room alone, Taylor joined him on Tuesday.

The joint keynote reflects the culmination of Taylor’s fast-moving career, co-creating Google Maps as a group product manager in his first job after college from 2003 to 2007. Taylor acknowledged Benioff’s influence on his tech career with the media after the keynote.

“When I started the company Quip, my first call was to Marc because I had never sold enterprise software before,” Taylor said. “Mark was my mentor and friend.”

Photo: Robert Hough/SiliconANGLE

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